NFL Draft 2013: Geno Smith Ain't in Kansas Anymore, and He's Thankful
When I think of the term overrated, a few names come to mind.
Ryan Leaf. anyone remember that guy? Unfortunately for him, the State of Montana does. He was the same guy at one point, that was almost going to be picked by the Colts instead of Peyton Manning.
Draft experts projected Leaf to basically be the next golden boy, along with Manning. Some said he was better than Manning and should be taken before him. Of course, predictions and projections are prone to problems in a less-than-perfect world. But Leaf will be ready if Hollywood ever decides to make The Longest Yard III.
Over a decade and numerous NFL rules later, we can actually judge the state of the game by its current trends. Draftperts, as I'm designating these guys, have gotten better at judging talent.
To me, one of the can't-miss QBs of the draft is Matt Barkley, despite what issues he has had. He's right up there with Geno Smith, another hot name with experts. I'm not sold on that one, yet. I really don't believe he's worth the money popular consensus seems to think he's going to get.
Smith will need to buck a trend if he's going to make it in the NFL. Why? It's simple. Geno Smith played at West Virginia, against some teams that really had no business calling themselves elite programs. He did well against sucky defenses, and was not as successful against better ones. Smith struggled when the defense caught on to his tendencies in the secondary and he rarely did well when rushed. This sounds a lot like Pat White.
Smith does have wheels. But, if a linebacking corps is any good -- and that's a prerequisite in the NFL -- I don't think he can lay enough rubber to create sufficient space to succeed.
Russell Wilson of the Seahawks is the current poster boy for undersized quarterbacks, at 5-11 and 206lb. Physically, what he lacks in stature, he makes up in mass. Smith is built like a greyhound and doesn't fit the 'undersized' comparison. He's got size at 6-3, but at 218lb, he could get snapped in half at the next level when pass protection breaks down.
Smith's proponents point out his 65% completion rate during his college career. But scouts are rarely swayed by figures and publicity. They're more into mechanics and reactions. This is why a guy like Joe Flacco was not in the popular discussion for top QB honors when he was drafted, but the inner circles loved his potential.
One hint of the obstacles Smith must overcome to make it in the NFL was his performance in the Mountaineers' game against Kansas State. He did throw for one touchdown but got hit for two picks and only compiled a measly 143 passing yards. West Virginia got smashed, 55-14. Yes, the Mountaineers did not have a terrific defense, which was all the more reason why a key task for Smith was to keep them off the field for long stretches. That didn't happen.
As strong as K-State was last season, not even the most purple-blinded booster on the best drugs would agree the Wildcat defense is anywhere near NFL caliber; it's not even near Alabama caliber! Smith is too jumpy in pressure situations. Yes, he still likes to pass more than run to get out of trouble but is too indecisive about it. Defenders lurking in masked coverage love that tendency!
Right now, some analysts have Smith going as high as the No 4 pick. Most, though, think he'll drop to the Cardinals at the No 7 spot. That's news to them.
Arizona has more pressing issues that would be better addressed in the early rounds. They should go after the O-Line, truth be told. No sense investing in a quarterback if you can't keep him healthy, and even less sense in it if his build indicates he'll snap like a dry twig on a blind-side hit. The same holds true with the Raiders and Eagles, who are both rumored to be taking a long look at Smith.
O-Line quality is what separates Colin Kaepernick (6-4 and 230) from a Kaepernick-Lite, if you will, like Smith. There's a fair comparison between the two when it comes to arm strength, but in terms of decision-making, Smith's history says he would have to exist in a much more limited offensive package than even Alex Smith does.
But in the NFL, when all other draft options seem hopeless, there's always the Jets.
Actually, Geno reminds me much more of another quarterback named Smith. That would be Troy, last seen hurling pigskin for the UFL's Omaha Nighthawks.
Maybe they need a backup.
To me, Geno Smith will be a major project at the NFL level. He'll get picked by a team that can afford to wait. It might be a while, for both his name to be announced and the resultant wait to be worth it.